Artificial: A Love Story

Catapult. Oct. 2023. 368p. ISBN 9781948226387. $38. MEMOIR
New Yorker cartoonist Kurzweil’s (Flying Couch) multilayered graphic memoir is an account of episodes from her own life, an examination of the legacies of her father (an innovator in the artificial intelligence field), and of her deceased grandfather, an Austrian conductor who escaped the Nazis just prior to Kristallnacht. She reconstructs archival materials in graphic form, including her grandfather’s correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and memories. This gives the work a collage effect, which works beautifully. Among other things, her narrative explores the possibilities of AI. Based on the papers and correspondence of her grandfather, she employs an AI chatbot to simulate conversations with him. The exchanges, while not consistently and wholly satisfactory, are intriguing and ask readers to take note of AI’s possibilities. Kurzweil also implores readers to consider questions of legacy. For example, can futuristic technologies keep a loved one’s memories alive? And what are the ethical implications of an AI chatbot serving as the mouthpiece of a deceased person?
VERDICT Kurzweil’s highly recommended memoir is unlike any other. It will leave readers with much to contemplate.
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